State of the Industry: Four Headwinds Facing Senior Living
You’ve read the headlines, we’ve read the headlines. AND, we dove into data to make sense of some of the senior living-focused headlines. We believe data tells stories, and helps marketers and investors make informed decisions. That’s why we dug up data from G5, NIC, and Argentum to help us make sense of what is happening in senior living right now.
Here is our State of the Industry report, CliffNotes style.
The elephant in the room with senior living is the lack of seniors in rooms. The occupancy challenge continues as seniors and their loved ones try to, “wait until COVID is over,” before selecting the right senior living community.
According to NIC MAP Data, between 2Q 2020 and 2Q 2021, occupancy fell by 5.6 percentage points to 81.8% in independent living, and 6.6 percentage points to 75.5% in assisted living. These are both record low occupancy rates. Markets vary, so be sure to check out our metro-specific deep dives to understand the occupancy challenges in specific markets.
#2. The Prospect Journey Changed
Want some good news? The need for senior living didn’t evaporate, but the typical senior living journey looks different in 2021 than it did pre-pandemic. Selecting the right senior living community for a loved one is a weighty decision. Consider these insights we collected from G5’s data, to help understand what has changed in the senior living prospect’s journey — and how that might impact your marketing strategy.
On average a senior living prospect journey is:
- 29 days long
- Includes 16 touchpoints
- Has a 31% digital advertising engagement
— G5 data, May 2021
We dove into our data to understand how 2019 senior living prospect journeys are different, or the same, from 2021. We found that the amount of time seniors and their families devoted to finding the perfect community remained remarkably steady. From the first time a senior or their loved one clicked on a digital ad, or looked at your website, to their time of inquiry increased only 2.5% since 2019.
However, in that same timeframe, seniors and their loved ones researched deeper into your website, with the median number of touchpoints in a senior living research journey increasing. This means that seniors and their loved ones are looking extra-close online when making this critical decision. Finally, seniors and their loved ones ARE interacting with digital advertising. According to G5 data, there was a 67% increase in digital advertising engagement from May 2019 to May 2021. All of this is to say, marketing matters. Learn more with our recent white paper about how G5’s Smart Digital Advertising helped our clients navigate a tumultuous market.
#3. Tech Talk
MarTech, PropTech, (all) Tech advanced and was adopted super fast. Tele-health, virtual sales assistants (VSAs), and on-the-go-charting all seem like advancements that are here to stay in the senior living space. Let’s dive into VSAs. As you learned, the prospect journey looks a little different than it used to. Seniors and their loved ones are researching senior living communities at a deeper level. Adding a VSA to your website can make this research a lighter lift for prospects, and ensure their questions don’t fall through the cracks with your sales and marketing team. A VSA enables higher levels of service to online prospects by answering FAQs, offering up videos, empowering researching residents to schedule tours, all without ever leaving your website. Learn more about how a VSA can empower your marketing by checking out our recent case study with Hearth Management.
Seniors and their loved ones have carried a disproportionate risk and burden from COVID-19. However, the longer we are in all of this, the more information we have to understand how to alleviate and mitigate this risk.
Recent research from NIC shows that COVID-19 mortality rates in senior housing increase as the caregiving and health complexities increase, which is why memory care settings and skilled nursing communities suffered the highest rates. In fact, within independent living communities the COVID-19 mortality rate was comparable to the respective metro, or city that they were located in.
These national trends are helpful to stick a pin in and pay attention to, but what about city-specific trends? We dug into those for Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia, Portland, and San Diego. Learn more by downloading the senior living State of the Industry report, and exploring our city-specific data deep dives.